Although cliché and cringeworthy, this is an easy-to-watch, feel good film that leaves you feeling uplifted
If you were to ask me what my favourite films are, the majority of them would be romantic comedies. They’re so light-hearted and endearing, and I often find myself getting completely lost in them.
Isn’t It Romantic opens with a scene showing a young girl called Natalie watching Pretty Woman – a good start, as far as I’m concerned. However, her mother (played by the absolutely fabulous Jennifer Saunders, who deserved a much larger part in the film) lectures her on how romcoms teach us unrealistic ideals, and that love like that doesn’t exist for girls like her. 25 years later, this young girl has grown into Rebel Wilson. It is fantastic to finally have a romcom fronted by someone who isn’t your typical stick-thin Hollywood beauty, but unfortunately the film feels the need to really make sure we know about it, with fat jokes including a man telling her she is “built like a cement truck”. There has been definite progress with body diversity, but one day it would be nice to see a protagonist who isn’t defined by her size.
Natalie is a single woman with an ordinary life until a man tries to mug her in the subway. She puts up a good fight and gets her bag back, but as she runs away she trips into a metal pole and hits her head so hard that she’s transported into a parallel universe that she herself describes as a “romantic comedy… and it’s PG13!”. She wakes up in a luxurious hospital with Tom Ellis playing her doctor (best known as Lucifer, but he will always be Gary from Miranda in my heart), and suddenly every man she meets finds her gorgeous. This makes for a funny plot twist but, again, in some ways this seems a little condescending as suddenly the joke is that attractive men are in love with the fat girl. This is a movie that is trying to satirise and dismantle the usual stereotypes of this genre, but in doing so it sometimes takes them too far. All of a sudden we have the token female work rival, the token gay best friend and the token man who falls in love with her just by bumping into her.
The latter is Liam Hemsworth’s character, who, in the ‘real world’, is an American businessman who takes Natalie’s coffee in a meeting believing she brought it for him and then demands she buy him a new one, despite her asserting that she’s an architect and not an assistant. In this alternative romcom realm, however, he’s suddenly Australian(?) and finds her “beguiling”, insisting he has found his soulmate. It’s difficult not to find him annoying as everything he says is so cringeworthy, but he succeeds in making Natalie’s best friend Josh (Adam DeVine) look great. We know from the beginning that Josh has a huge crush on Natalie, so in the romcom world the characters played by Hemsworth and Priyanka Chopra act as great obstacles for this. Despite having such a great cast, this film doesn’t really give many actors a chance to shine as every single character – perhaps with the exception of Natalie – lacks individuality and is completely stereotypical, but this seems a deliberate move which adds to the satire style.
This movie has some really funny moments, with constant jokes throughout and some incredibly corny but hilarious scenes. The absolutely spectacular, most memorable moment occurred in the karaoke bar towards the end of the film, when the cast sing Whitney Houston. This is a great romcom spoof with self-love as its main message, and this scene in particular is as cheesy as it gets. Yes, it has its faults, and yes, at times it tries so hard to mock its predecessors that it ends up falling into the exact same trap, but it has good intentions at its heart and leaves you feeling like there’s hope for you yet. Will Isn’t It Romantic make the list of my favourite romcoms ever? Probably not, but its still a good movie that’s worth a watch if you’re in the mood for a feel-good film.
Isn’t It Romatic, directed by Todd Strauss-Schulson, is distributed in the UK and available to stream now via Netflix, certificate 12a.